Louisville vs. Wichita State, 2013 Final Four: Cardinals close in on first championship since 1986

Andy Lyons

Louisville came into the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed and the Cardinals are now the overwhelming favorites to cut down the nets in Atlanta. They get Wichita State in the first National Semifinal on Saturday.

A game between the No. 1 overall seed Louisville Cardinals and the No. 9 Wichita St. Shockers might sound more like a Third Round matchup, but these two teams have fought their way to Atlanta and will play the first National Semifinal Saturday night at the 2013 Final Four.

Louisville earned its trip to the Final Four with a 22-point win over No. 2 Duke in the Elite Eight. The Cardinals have lost just one game since Jan. 26 -- and that one was in five overtimes at Notre Dame -- and are closing in on the school's first National Championship since 1986.

The Shockers, meanwhile, are making their first Final Four appearance since 1965 and are eyeing what would be one of the biggest upsets in the Final Four in recent memory.

Not that Wichita State is any stranger to pulling off the upset. The Shockers beat both No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Ohio State to reach Atlanta, so they are plenty comfortable playing in their road uniforms.

But in order for Wichita State to win this one, it will have to find a way to contain the speedy and explosive Louisville guards, Russ Smith and Peyton Siva. Smith has scored at least 23 points in each of Louisville's NCAA Tournament games, including a 31-point outburst in the Sweet 16 against Oregon. Siva is the team's senior distributor, averaging almost six assists per game, but he has turned it up in the scoring column as well over the last two weeks. He had 16 points against Duke on 6-10 shooting.

Wichita State counters with a more methodical approach, preferring to work for a good shot and crash the boards. The Shockers ranked 27th in the country in rebounding this season, led by 6.9 per game from Carl Hall. Cleanthony Early puts up 13.7 points per game to lead the team in scoring on 45 percent shooting.

Saturday night's game will tip at 6:09 p.m., with the second semifinal between No. 4 Syracuse and No. 4 Michigan to follow around 8:45 p.m.

For complete Final Four coverage, check out our local blogs: Card Chronicle Maize n Brew Nunes Magician Mid Major Madness

More in College Basketball:

Gruesome injury brings Cardinals together

Spencer Hall: One night in Dunk City

NCAA printable bracket: Final Four is set

Steve Alford leaves New Mexico for UCLA

Wichita State just latest mid-major to crash Final Four

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